Life is for Living

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have author and Acquisitions Editor Katie Hamstead chatting about a very early second act.

Here’s Katie!

katie-teller-author-photo-2-3 (2)Briefly describe your early acts.

Early acts… Well, I feel like I’m still fairly early in life since I’m 27. So I guess my acts consist of school, post high school to marriage, then married life. High school days were tough, but fun. I had the bullying and isolation going on, but to be honest, I’m kind of glad I went through all of that. Not that I enjoyed it, but the bullying made me stronger, and the isolation made me understand what real friends are and the qualities in people I enjoy associating with and that uplift and strengthen me. But high school was fun, in that I could explore my talents and hobbies. Along with writing stories on scrap notebook pages, I loved singing and sports, which I don’t get much chance to do either of any more. I miss playing and performing terribly.

After high school, I kind of went into “party” mode. Finally I was free. I did a stint as an exchange student (BEST choice I ever made, I highly recommend it to anyone who has a chance) I got a job, I traveled, I moved around, I sought out higher education, and I made friends with people who really helped boost my confidence and let the real me shine out. My years from 18-22 were a blast, even though there were moments of pain and grief unlike any other period before. But with all negative experiences, I try to glean lessons from them, to help me grow.

I married at 22, so have been married for just over 5 years. When I married, I migrated to the USA from Australia. I’m an Aussie, born and raised! And my hubby is a Native American (Navajo). This act eventually led me to my writing when I a) wasn’t allowed to work due to visa restrictions and b) got pregnant right when my restrictions got lifted, so no one wanted to employ me. As a result, I found myself with lots of time on my hands, so one thing led to another and I picked up my writing again.

What triggered the need for change?

It my last act, boredom mostly. I needed something to fill the time while my hubby was at work. I’d grown tired of being homesick, so wanted to get productive. Actually, that’s kind of what triggers most of my changes. I get bored with what I’m doing with my life. That’s pretty honest, right?

Where are you now?

Now I’m in a pretty good place. I love writing, acquiring for CQ and being a wife and mother… although I am getting restless. I think we need to move or do something to shake things up a bit.

Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?

Go ahead! Life is for living, pursuing your dreams, and growing. Why just exist? Make your life worth every breath you take.

branded (2)


Terrorists have invaded Sydney, and Allison King barely escapes her brother’s wedding reception alive. She and her siblings flee, but their parents are killed by firing squad.

Now Ali’s on the run and terrified. While searching for other survivors, she is captured by the General who leads the invasion. He’s smitten by Ali, and when she refuses to submit to his whims, he brands her for death. In a wild act of defiance, she snatches the branding rod and sears the mark onto his face. Marking not only him but also sealing her fate. Ali manages to escape and flees into the bush once more where she finds a group in hiding. Even with the scars left by the General, Ali learns to love and falls in love with the young man who found her—Damien Rogers.

But the General is hunting her. When he discovers their location, and finds her with another man—Damien—his wrath is kindled and his obsession is inflamed. Ali must put herself on the line or the General could kill her family, those who help her, and most significantly, the man she loves.


Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She currently works as an Acquisitions Editor with Curiosity Quills Press to help support her family.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Where to find Katie…

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Joanne here!

I am impressed by your can-do attitude and ability to deal with boredom. Thank you for sharing your journey and best of luck with all your literary endeavors.

Oprah and Paulo Coelho


Yesterday, Oprah welcomed bestselling author Paulo Coelho to Super Soul Sunday. Paulo is celebrating the 25th anniversary of a true phenomenon: The Alchemist. Since publication, this magical allegory about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from Spain to Egypt in search of treasure has broken all records. Over 65 million copies have been sold and it is the most translated book in history.

I was fascinated by Paulo’s early history and the near-death of The Alchemist.

Born into a middle- class family in Rio de Janeiro, he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an engineer. When Paulo rebelled, his parents bribed him and, when that failed, they committed him to a mental institution from which he escaped three times before being released at the age of 20. Paulo made it clear that his parents truly loved him but were not comfortable with the idea of a son following a creative path.

thealchemistOriginally, Paulo launched The Alchemist through a small Brazilian publishing house. Initial sales were dismal and the publisher decided not to reprint. Passionate and committed to its success, Paulo found a larger publishing house and from there the book took off. Both Oprah and Paulo stressed the book reached the critical masses because of famous (Bill Clinton, Madonna, Will Smith) and more importantly, anonymous readers.

Throughout the telecast, Paulo shared wonderful observations and insights.

We all have a personal legend. And the key behind that legend is enthusiasm. We need to ask ourselves what gives us enthusiasm, keeping in mind that we betray our personal legend whenever we do something without enthusiasm.

We become fluent in the language of the world by daring, and we learn this language by paying attention and making mistakes. Omens and signs are everywhere. We need to look at everything as if we are seeing it for the first time.

Paulo believes that God will ask: “Did you love enough?” Here, Paulo is not referring to romantic love but whether we are able to open our hearts to embrace every grain of sand.

Quotable Quotes

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.

The heart is like a flower. It can be very brave or easily hurt.

Always listen to your heart, even when it scares you.

Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one “dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.”

And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you get it.

Book Review: Never Too Late

As an author on my own road to reinvention, I’m always on the lookout for stories about women who boldly seek adventures that propel them into second acts. I was thrilled to discover Claire Cook’s delightful novels and read about her extraordinary journey.

Reinvention is a recurring theme in Claire’s life and novels.

nevertoolateShe wrote her first novel at age 45 in a minivan while her children were at swim practice. Five years later, she walked down the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of Must Love Dogs, the film adaptation of her second book.

After eleven best-selling novels and numerous speaking engagements, Claire has written a nonfiction book, Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way).

Using her trademark humor and wit, Claire tells her own story and that of other reinventors while providing tips on finding that sweet spot, staying on track, securing a support system, building a platform, and overcoming perfectionism.

You don’t have to be a writer or midlifer to appreciate this book. It will appeal to any woman who feels stymied or dissatisfied with her present circumstances. And by the end of the book, the reader will be able to answer Claire’s thought-provoking question: “What would you like your life to be in five years and what’s getting in your way?”

Quotable Quotes

Karma is a boomerang.

You don’t have to be good at it—that takes time and hard work. But you have to love it enough to want to be good at it.

If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters (204 if you’re in Japan!).

If failure comes with a lesson, take it. If it doesn’t, put it behind you and move on.

There were only three things standing in my way all that time: me, myself and I.

Dreams don’t have an expiration date. Not even a best by date. If it’s still your dream, it’s still your dream.

Where to find Claire…

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Romance: Bah Humbug?

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have June Kearns entertaining us with her take on romance and romance writing.

Here’s June!

junekearnspixFirst Act

One of my earliest memories is being under the kitchen table, hidden by fringes of the chenille cloth and listening to the chink of teacups, laughter and whispered secrets between my mum and her sisters.

They all read romances – the quest to find the one person you were destined to spend your life with, that impulse buried deep in the natural world. Apparently, when you least expected it – zing would go the strings of your heart (or something like that!)

Without fail, the heroines in these stories were head-turning, heart-stopping beauties. One look, and the hero would be smitten.

At 13, I’d already decided that no-one would ever fall in love with me. Small, sturdy and self-conscious, I had hair that frizzed in damp weather and a tendency to flush easily.

How could I ever inspire love? Because this was how the world worked, wasn’t it?

It was a terrible blow.

What triggered the need for change?

Then, I read Jane Eyre.

charlottebronteHere was a heroine as plain and self-conscious as myself (and Charlotte Bronte!) who still sparked passion in the hero. I started to believe that passionate relationships could be generated by great conversations, argument and humour.

My first writing success, after leaving teaching to have my children, was winning a national magazine competition for the first chapter of an historical romance.

‘Why romance?’ people said, often with a sniff.

Ah well, it’s such a life force, isn’t it?

Apparently, (I’ve just read this in the newspaper!) romantic love is something we only started to appreciate here, roughly 100 years after the Norman conquest of Britain. Up until the 12th century, knights had regarded biffing each other as pretty much its own reward. After that, they needed to believe that the biffing was necessary to win fair ladies – the ones dangling their hair out of castle windows. Great stuff.

Where are you now?

I’m concentrating on the sort of stories that I feel suit me best – sort of hist/fict/romcoms – with (hopefully) plenty of laughter, rat-a-tat dialogue, and cut and thrust of comic conversation – the sort they did so well in those fabulous 1930s and 40s films.

My current WIP is set in 1960s London.

Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?

I’ve read some wonderful advice on this blog from other women.

Mine would be – don’t be afraid of just being yourself. For a long time, I didn’t believe that was good enough. (My star sign is Cancer – favourite position safely under the shell, peeping out!)

But – there’s absolutely no-one else like you!

Just follow your own instincts.

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

I spend a LOT of time staring at the wall in front of my desk – it’s chock full of helpful homilies and quotations!


Samuel Beckett’s ‘Try again. Fail again. Fail better’ – is one of my favourites. And: ‘Stop apologising. Relax. Just write the story you want to read!’

June’s Books

junekearnscowboyThe American West, 1867

After a stagecoach wreck, well-bred bookish spinster Annie Haddon, (product of mustn’t-take-off-your-hat, mustn’t-take-off-your-gloves, mustn’t-get hot-or-perspire Victorian society) is thrown into the company of cowboy Colt McCall – a man who lives by his own rules, and hates the English.

Can two people from such wildly different backgrounds learn to trust each other? Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West.

junekearnscover1924. The English Shores after the Great War.

When her jazzing flapper of an aunt dies, Gerardina Mary Chiledexter inherits some silver-topped scent bottles, a wardrobe of love-affair clothes, and astonishingly, a half-share in a million-acre cattle ranch in south-west Texas.

Haunted by a psychic cat, and the ghost voice of that aunt, Leonie, Gerry feels driven to travel thousands of miles to see the ranch for herself.

Against a background of big sky, cattle barons and oil wells, she is soon engaged in a game of power, pride and ultimately love, with the Texan who owns he other half.

Where to find June…

Website | New Romantics4 Website | Facebook | Twitter

Joanne here!

June, thank you for sharing your journey and insights. Best of luck with all your literary endeavors.

How Cancer Opened a Door for Me to Walk Through

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Karen Ingalls sharing her extraordinary journey from a nursing career in traditional and holistic medicine to a second act shaped by a life-altering diagnosis.

Here’s Karen!

kareningallspictureThank you, Joanne, for inviting me to be a part of your Second Act Series. When I received your invitation my mind immediately went to several second acts in my life, but I quickly knew that my most recent one was the one to share with your readers.

I remember as a young girl writing in tablets and diaries about magical places, current family events, and many dreams and goals. I wrote poems, pieces of prose, short stories, and even a novel when in my late teens. I never showed my writing nor told anyone about it. I wrote because it was a way to escape reality, create a happier world, or write about people (famous or not) who I admired or loved. I did not think of myself as a writer nor visualize myself someday having a published book or article. I wrote because I enjoyed it, it helped me, and through it I found a sense of peace.

Along with writing I have always loved to read. Here I was and still am influenced by my grandmother Edith, who was a librarian assistant and she gave her grandchildren books at every possible opportunity. Though she had an eighth grade education she was a scholar in her own right. She was a very positive role model for me with the articles she wrote for the library and church, the books she read, her daily diaries, and her constant pursuit of information.

One of my first acts was to put into reality my dream of being a doctor, but instead I chose the field of nursing. I went on to get my Master’s Degree in Human Development with a double major in psychology and social service. For thirty years I worked in traditional medicine, but also opened up my own holistic nursing service called Kare ‘N Touch. There I offered clients counseling, biofeedback, Swedish massage, acupressure and healing work all on a sliding fee basis.


The second act, my pursuit of writing, was when I co-authored a nursing article with another nurse, Charlotte Tourville, titled The Living Tree of Nursing Theories. This article was well received and today it is a model used by several schools of nursing. Our first publication was a thrilling moment for both of us. It was the result of using her strength in knowledge and research, and my gift of writing. A sense of accomplishment and the accompanying recognition fanned the second act which I now know I was destined to do and be.

A few years later (2008) brought the life altering diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The subsequent surgery, tests, chemotherapies, and many doctor’s visits changed my life forever in a positive way. Again I turned to journaling and writing as one of my coping and healing tools. A close friend asked to read my journal, which I said was just a diary and would not be of interest to her. She insisted and brought it back to me a few days later saying, “Karen, you must get this published. Women all over the world will benefit from what you are saying.”

Due to the recognition of the nursing article and my friend’s enthusiastic response to my journal, I now felt confident enough to ask a retired English professor to read my tattered and often rewritten novel’s manuscript. A week later she returned it to me and said, “Karen, you blew me away. This is excellent.”

Doors were opening for me to enter and walk through. Little did I know that my nursing career in traditional and holistic medicine and an ovarian cancer diagnosis would bring me to my present act as an accomplished and published author of a nursing article and two books.

My first published book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, has earned two awards and been well accepted by the medical community, patients, and their families. I donate all proceeds to gynecologic cancer research at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.

My novel, Novy’s Son, The Selfish Genius, follows the life of a man searching for love and acceptance from his father. Many times when I counseled men, they were on a similar search and too many of them sought out approval through unhealthy behaviors.

My second act as an author is exciting and I believe it is my God given purpose. I write a weekly blog about health/wellness, relationships, spirituality, and cancer. I give presentations to churches, libraries, hospitals, service organizations, and book clubs. I have published articles in Oncology Times,, Southern Writers’ Magazine, and have been a guest blogger for a number of sites.

I am writing my second novel, because I believe it is a story that needs to be told. I love to use my imagination and this story certainly allows me to do just that. It is a story of love, tragedy, and family dynamics in the nineteenth century.

I look back on my life and know that there were many steps I needed to take and challenges to overcome. All of my life events have brought me to where I am today. I say to all who read this, “Listen to your heart and follow your dream.” I love to read a good story, and I hope that my gift of writing brings those same feelings to my readers.

“Your talent is God’s gift to you, what you do with that talent is your gift to God” (Leo Buscaglia). I am blessed to be living my second act with joy, love, and peace.

Karen’s Books

kareningallsoutshineWhen I was diagnosed with Stage II ovarian cancer, I realized how little I new about what was once called “the silent killer.” As I began to educate myself I felt overwhelmed by the prevalent negativity of cancer. Lost in the information about drugs, side effects, and statistics, I redirected my energy to focus on the equally overwhelming blessings of life, learning to rejoice in each day, and find peace in spirituality. In this memoir I offer a perspective of hope with the knowledge that “the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation. This is a story of survival, and reminds readers that disease is not an absolute, but a challenge to recover.

kareningallsnovassonFrom his early childhood, Matthew Collins sought love and acceptance from his father, who was raised as the bastard child of a famous artist. Matthew struggled with jealousy toward his younger brothers, and he questioned the morals and values of people around him.

As an adult, Matthew lived life his way, with years of lying, womanizing, and heavy drinking. Though married four times, did he ever find unconditional love? Would Matthew’s high intelligence, his love for his two daughters, and his unique philosophy of life help him rise above his demons?

Where to find Karen…

Website | Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Amazon | Facebook

Joanne here!

Karen, thank you for an inspiring post and good luck with all your literary endeavors. I encourage all readers of this blog to follow Karen online and learn more about her extraordinary journey.

Happy Serendipity Day!


Today is Serendipity Day, an officially recognized annual event and special day to celebrate unexpected and much appreciated grace.

Some of my favorite quotations…

The universe is always speaking to us…sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more. Nancy Thayer

There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery. Jeff Bezos

Life is full of surprises and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns on the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure—do it well, enjoy it—and then, not now, think about what comes next. Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked. Elizabeth Berg

Unless you leave room for Serendipity…How can the Divine enter? Joseph Campbell

History is an intricate web of timing, people, circumstances and serendipity. Don Rittner

In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts. Peter McWilliams

Serendipity: Look for something, find something else and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for. Lawrence Block

If you use it intelligently, Twitter can be a form of engineered serendipity. Jason Silva